Vikings-Dolphins predictions: Which first-year head coach wins in Week 6?
Can the Vikings extend their winning streak to four? Only thing that could stop them is a Dolphins team backed by Skylar Thompson, a seventh round rookie who made his NFL debut against the Jets last week.
This won’t be an easy task. This is the Vikings’ second true road game of 2018. They lost to the Eagles in Philadelphia, but won a neutral game in London two weeks later. The Dolphins are down to their third-string quarterback, but they still have dangerous weapons like Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. They also have Mike McDaniel, a bright offensive coach.
Vikings’ head coach Kevin O’Connell won two straight games against fellow first year coaches, defeating Dennis Allen (Saints), and Matt Eberflus(Bears) in two weeks. McDaniel lost to the Dolphins’ QB Tua Tagovailoa, who was concussed. O’Connell can now extend that streak to three by beating McDaniel.
The Dolphins have struggled defensively so there should be opportunities to score points for O’Connell or the Vikings.
Who will win on Sunday? Let’s look at some predictions from national analysts and myself.
Will’s pick: Vikings 30, Dolphins 20
2022 record: 5-0
I think the Vikings should be able to handle business against a team playing a third-string rookie at quarterback. Minnesota’s defense has been a mess, but it has the players at all three levels to make it difficult for a rookie quarterback. Offensively, the Vikings should be able to score against a Dolphins team that ranks 32nd in pass defense DVOA. I’m going out on a limb to say that the Vikings will win, even though the game is still at the final play.
SI MMQB: All five of SI’s pickers are taking the Vikings to win on the road.
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Vikings 24, Dolphins 23
Seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson will start at quarterback, with Tua Tagovailoa ruled out and Teddy Bridgewater also still in concussion protocol. The Dolphins’ top cornerback, Xavien Howard, and offensive line Jenga piece Terron Armstead are uncertain for Sunday, too. Thompson’s arm strength may not be great, but I am more concerned about the availability of other players. Without their stars, the Dolphins are so weak at tackle and cornerback. If Howard and Armstead are playing, I’ll flip the pick against a Vikings team that doesn’t impress even though it makes big drives when necessary.
Bleacher Report Staff: Vikings 34, Dolphins 21
Even though Hill seems likely to play Sunday, the Dolphins’ inexperience at the quarterback position with Thompson at the helm is a big blow to their offense. He is a third-string signal-caller and will start in his second NFL match. As the rookie goes through a learning experience, quarterback Kirk Cousins will go up and down the field on Miami’s 28th-ranked pass defense, connecting with wideouts Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen for big plays to blow this game wide open.
Mike Florio, PFT: Dolphins 24, Vikings 21
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The Vikings keep doing just enough to win, thanks to plenty of good luck. Their luck runs out this week.
Michael David Smith, PFT: Vikings 21, Dolphins 20
Top to bottom the Dolphins are the better team, but with rookie Skylar Thompson set to make the first start of his NFL career in Miami, I have to go with the Vikings.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Vikings 30, Dolphins 24
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Dolphins 28, Vikings 24
Any discussion of this game is largely irrelevant without knowing the precise nature of the Miami quarterback situation. Skylar Thompson, the late-round rookie, has been announced by Mike McDaniel as the starter. I think Teddy Bridgewater plays (he never suffered a concussion, per the Dolphins, but the altered protocols forced him to remain out of the game and miss practice). I am willing to wager on the 3.5 that he plays and I believe we will see a lot of points in this match.
Mark Craig, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Vikings 30, Dolphins 24
A road trip to Miami this early in the season can wilt a visiting team, but a Dolphins defense that’s given up 67 points the past two weeks won’t stop the Vikings offense well enough for Miami to win a shootout without Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Vikings 24, Bears 20
The Vikings likely won’t see their former first-rounder starter Teddy Bridgewater and the Dolphins won’t be able to win with a run-heavy offense with wide receivers Tyreek Hill (foot) and Jaylen Waddle (groin) banged up. Justin Jefferson is not available due to Xavien Howard’s injury. Dalvin Cook will also continue to run in his return to the state he grew up in.
Seth Walder, ESPN: Dolphins 23, Vikings 17
Eric Moody, ESPN: Vikings 21, Dolphins 20
What to watch for: Skylar Thompson will become the 10th rookie to make his first career start for the Dolphins since 1966. He can also become just the third rookie to win their first start, joining David Woodley and Tua Tagovailoa. They haven’t fared well as a group, however, throwing for six touchdowns against 11 interceptions; only Dan Marino and Ryan Tannehill eclipsed the 200 passing yard-mark. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Bold prediction: Dalvin Cook will have his best game of the season, rushing for at least 100 yards and two touchdowns. The Dolphins’ run defense is actually quite good, ranking No. Based on expected points added, the Dolphins’ run defense ranks No.7 in the NFL. But it has allowed seven rushing touchdowns, tied for sixth-most in the league, and Cook — a Miami native — has averaged more than 100 yards per game dating back to college when he played Florida-based teams in Florida. — Kevin Seifert
Stat to know: Kirk Cousins has 75 passing first downs this season, the third-most in the NFL behind Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen (78). He faces a Dolphins defense that allows 8. 29 passing yards per attempt, the third-worst in the NFL.
Thanks for reading. Keep checking this site daily for the latest Vikings news, analysis and updates all offseason. Also, follow me on Twitter and feel free to ask me any questions on there.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.